Drivers will be acutely aware of the warnings about using a mobile phone while at a petrol station.
What isn’t clear, however, is why?
Why is it discouraged to use a phone while at the petrol station and is there any danger?
Many assume that the ban revolves around the notion that a mobile phone is a fire hazard, despite scientists previously disproving this.
The UK Petroleum Industry Association looked into the issue in 2017 and issued a statement to clear up the reasons why warnings are in place and what dangers there actually are.
It said: “In the past, there had been widespread but unsubstantiated reports circulating globally of mobile phones igniting petrol vapours on petrol filling station forecourts, or other locations where flammable vapours were present.
“As a result, the Energy Institute in conjunction with Intellect, the trade association for IT, Telecomms and Electronics industries in the UK, conducted a study into the risks of ignition of flammable vapours by mobile phones.
“The results of the study were presented at a technical seminar hosted by the EI in March 2003.
“The main conclusions where that: There were no confirmed ignition incidents associated with mobile phones anywhere in the world.
“Mobile phones, although not specifically designed to standards as ‘protected equipment’, pose a negligible ignition risk, and one that is far less than other ignition sources on a fuel forecourt.”
The statement does, however, outline a number of reasons why the use of phones is discouraged.
UKPIA claims that there are two reasons why the use of phones is frowned upon.
Firstly because mobile phones can create a serious distraction for people dispensing fuel or crossing the forecourt due to the number of vehicles moving.
It states: “Traffic movements will always present a risk for customers. However the distraction caused to pedestrians by mobile phones increases the risk of accidents.”
Secondly is due to a risk of ‘incendive sparking.’
“Mobile phones are not designed and certified for use in explosive atmospheres which exist temporarily around the pump and nozzle during refuelling as well as around the fill and vent pipes during petrol deliveries.
“Such use is expressly forbidden by law under the conditions of the petroleum licence and associated guidance.
“Whilst the risk of incendive sparking from mobile phones is low, they are not intrinsically safe devices and should not be used in those hazardous areas that exist on a forecourt.
“Generally,there is no need to restrict the use of mobile telephones in other areas of the forecourt, such as in the shop, in motor vehicles parked on the forecourt or in other non-hazardous areas.”
Therefore drivers should not use their phones while at the pump or while on the forecourt as it could be dangers or distracting.
However, using them inside the car with the engine off and to pay while in the shop is completely fine.
In Nigeria though, there appears to be no law regulating the use of phones at petrol stations. What we have at best is an unwritten code which most petrol station attendants enforce, even though most of them who were asked, did not know the origin or reason, save that “…them say if you use phone for here, something go explode.”